Born to Run
After gaining critical respect with his first two albums, Born to Run was Springsteen’s commercial breakthrough. A Phil Spector inspired big sound provides the backdrop; with huge amounts of money spent on recording, the album was a do or die effort for Springsteen’s career. He succeeded; Born to Run is accessible and established Springsteen as a major creative force in a stagnating music scene.
While the characters are the same youths on the cusp of adulthood that populated the previous album, this time the situations are less romantic and more desperate; the title track draws a dark vision of an impeding boring life in suburbia which the protagonist hopes to escape from (“Someday girl I don’t know when/We’re gonna get to that place/Where we really want to go/And we’ll walk in the sun/But till then tramps like us/Baby we were born to run”) while the chilling ‘Meeting Across The River’ describes a get rich quick scheme to escape the encroaching monotony. Springsteen’s grandiose themes are perfectly matched by the grandiose music which reaches moments of thrilling authority, such as the coda of ‘Backstreets’ or the saxophone solo in the title track.
The title track’s melody is reminiscent of Dylan’s ‘My Back Pages’, but it still generates an adrenaline rush. ‘Tenth Avenue Freezeout’ finds the E Street Band riding a catchy jazzy groove, while the significant epics ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘Jungleland’ that bookend the album are both effective. Most successful of all is ‘Meeting Across The River’, with its film noir atmosphere and direct melody. A few of the lesser tracks like ‘Night’ and ‘She’s The One’, however, are too uninteresting for Born to Run to be a perfect album.
Born To Run kick-started a flagging career, and as a whole its potency is undeniable.